February 28, 2012

Questions People Ask When You Tell Them You're Going To Japan

1. Where in Japan are you going?
Unless your answer is Tokyo, expect a vague 'oh, ok... what island is that on? Is that the same island Tokyo is on? Where in proximity is that to Tokyo?' To the layman, non-Japan-geek, Narita Airport is the exclusive gateway to Japan, and Tokyo resembles the only city that matters in Japan. Scratch that, Tokyo IS Japan. Carry a map with you at all times so that, when this question is asked, you can prove that there are actually other places that exist in Japan.

2. Do you speak Japanese?
This is a tricky one. Although I have studied Japanese for 8 years, I'm going to be honest and tell you right now - my Japanese is appalling. Shit man, I live in New Zealand, we can barely speak English here. So, what's a white girl with a so-called degree in Japanese to do? Lie. Impress people. 'Well, I'm fairly fluent, but I'm a little rusty at the moment. I prefer to write in Japanese.' Smile angelically, blush, and lap up the compliments, as the interviewer pictures you brandishing a calligraphy brush and writing a thesis on the development of the complex Japanese honorific verb structure. No need to tell people that the last time you were in Japan you accidentally asked the train station attendant for a 'little boy's ticket' instead of a 'child's ticket'.

 3. Are you worried about earthquakes? *Insert Kobe and Sendai references here*
I get it. This is a highly topical question. We are still crapping ourselves over the Christchurch earthquakes, and it's only natural that you would want to know why the hell I would go from one earthquake-ridden country to another, possibly even more doomed Ring of Fire nation. This is when you shrug, and say breezily, 'well, it's 2012, the world's meant to end anyway', but go straight home and Google the 'triangle of life versus drop, cover and hold on.'

4. Are you worried about radiation? *Insert Fukushima reference here*
Calmly explain that Fukushima is in a completely different region to the area in which you will be (of course, this will be meaningless, as your interrogator still assumes no matter where you are, you are near Tokyo, which is the centre of Japan's universe). Or joke that you will actually be living within one of the condemned reactors, as rent will be cheaper there. They will probably then try to convince you that the food is contaminated, the Japanese media is corrupt, and that everyone in Japan is secretly suffering from radiation sickness as we speak. Use the '2012 ' argument, go home and Google 'where can I buy radiation proof suits using a Debit Plus card?'.

5. Are you excited?!
Well. I'm not going to Tokyo, which is clearly some sort of big disappointment. You've just reminded me of how shit my Japanese ability is. You tell me I'm probably going to die in an earthquake, or become some sort of radioactive mutant. Am I excited?! Why don't you answer that one...